Does the economy affect elections any more?

“THE ECONOMY, stupid,” was the slogan of a strategist in Bill Clinton’s campaign for the presidency in 1992. It was a pithy encapsulation of time-honoured spin-doctoring wisdom: that a strong economy helps the incumbent and a weak one helps the challenger. When Mr Clinton took on George H.W. Bush in 1992, real wages were stagnant. Unemployment peaked just months before the poll—and, sure enough, Mr Bush failed to win a second term. The 2,000-odd studies on the “economic vote” since then have turned the pollsters’ hunch into political gospel. A cross-country analysis by Larry Bartels of Vanderbilt University, looking at 2007-11, found that each extra percentage point of GDP growth in the four quarters before an election was associated with a rise of 1% in the incumbent party’s vote share.

But politics has changed. Today’s most heated debates concern issues of identity and culture—openness to immigrants or free trade; attitudes to abortion or transgender bathrooms. Has the economy stopped mattering to voters?

Often it seems so. An analysis by The Economist earlier this year, for example, found that in America the correlation between consumer confidence and the public’s approval of the president had broken down. There are signs of the same trend in other rich countries, too. Boris Johnson, Britain’s...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

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